4 Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support Strategies
Jan 20 2022

4 Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support Strategies

Positive Action Staff
Aggressive physical behavior, uncontrolled tantrums, and repetitive emotional outbursts.

These and other behavior issues often interfere with a child’s ability to function well in school. They can also cause parents and caretakers anguish and turmoil on the homefront.

As it is, targeted behavioral interventions that meet the needs of a troubled child exist.

Implementing effective behavior intervention strategies can reduce negative or unwanted behavior in children.

Students learn best when they’re in an environment that’s academically focused and free of negative and problem behaviors. Using positive behavioral interventions and support strategies can, therefore, also optimize learning and improve family interactions.

Teachers who use these strategies focus more on teaching and the learning process. Those who don't find themselves addressing wayward behavior frequently within their classrooms.

As Positive Action philosophy dictates, students, like adults, have thoughts that lead to actions. These actions lead to feelings about themselves; and, ultimately, these feelings lead to more thoughts.

When this Thoughts-Actions-Feelings Cycle (TAF) is negative, students have no desire to learn. But when it’s positive, they do want to learn:

“Fourth grade is where I changed my life around. I felt like I wasn’t being threatened. I felt safe. I made new friends and didn’t care to fight.”

Jason, Lemon Grove, California

For students such as Jason, quoted above, positive behavioral interventions and support strategies go a long way. They encourage them to adjust their perspectives and expectations about school.

Only then can these students feel excited about learning and making contributions at home, in the classroom, and in the school environment.

The following strategies can be a great boon to the teaching and learning experience, whether they’re used at home or in school:

Design and Establish Routines

Setting clear routines for everything you’d like students to do in your classroom can be a time-consuming exercise. Yet, it is critical when you’re building a consistent and predictable classroom environment.

Be explicit when giving instructions so that your expectations are well understood. Additionally, give your students many chances to practice the classroom routines you establish.

You should also explain the consequences when your expectations are not met.

Ensure you enforce consequences when your students fail to follow the agreed-upon routines. Even so, take care to reinforce and provide ongoing support for the expected behavior.

Routines can give students more time to spend on learning. That’s because they reduce the amount of time that’s required to transition from one activity to another.

In addition to making for a successful classroom, routines are quite effective in addressing inappropriate behavior at home.

Here are some areas in which you could establish routines in the classroom:

  • Arrival and dismissal procedures
  • Transitioning between class activities
  • Making up for missed work
  • Turning in assignments done in class
  • Options students can use to occupy themselves when they finish assignments

Expert Tip: Don’t automatically assume students know the expectations of your classroom. Instead, be sure to demonstrate how you’d like them to do things.

Implement Silent Signals

Teachers can create silent signals for use in class. These signals remind students to pay attention, remain on task, or do something else.

These signals can be established for an entire class. But you may decide to put in place special signals for a specific student who could benefit from the extra behavioral support.

The beauty of silent signals is that they are very effective. They reinforce your behavioral expectations while causing minimal disruption to the rest of the class.

What’s more, you can even create signals that allow your students, or even one or two of them, to express their needs to you. The important thing is to use as many positive and encouraging signals as you’re prone to using negative ones.

Some examples of silent signals, plus other benefits of using this strategy in the classroom, can be found in the table below:

Benefits of Silent Signals

  • Establish a working relationship with students without calling out negative behavior
  • Quick and easy, so no loss of instruction time
  • Help build students’ self-esteem

Examples of Silent Signals

  • A hand motion
  • A shake of the head
  • Holding up an index finger in the air

Bonus Tip: If you'll be using this strategy on a specific student, have a one-on-one meeting with him or her. Then, explain the signals you'll be using in class.

You may also allow the student to choose a silent signal if at all possible to get him or her invested in the strategy

State the Behavior You Want to See

As a teacher, you should always state the kind of behavior you want to see. Doing so communicates to your students the kind of expectation you have about how they act.

Acknowledging those students who meet your expectations right away can be a great way to reward positive behavior. It also repeats your stated expectations for others who may not have heard you the first time.

For instance, you asked your students to form an orderly queue. But some of them are still talking amongst themselves in small groups.

You would ideally praise the desired actions taken by the 3 or 4 students who have already queued up. Then, watch as the rest of the students quickly mimic the desired behavior so they can receive positive praise too.

Acknowledging and praising positive behavior in the classroom should be a continuous process. Even so, be sure to adequately address negative or disruptive behavior in the learning environment without praising it or giving it undue attention.

Finally, it is prudent to keep your expectations appropriate to your students’ grade levels as well as their abilities.

This can often mean pausing to consider the appropriateness of an expectation. Do this before making a habit of threatening students with statements such as, “If you don’t… then I will…”

Using negative reinforcement often creates unnecessary tension. You want to ensure the children you’re teaching are encouraged to consistently demonstrate positive behavior.

For this reason, you must also consider how you use your language. Tell your students, “We always eat while seated,” instead of saying, “Don’t eat while standing.”

Use Your Proximity

Sometimes, you may fail to get a student’s attention by using silent signals and cues. Even stating the behavior you’d want to see may not always work.

In such cases, you can try moving closer to the student in a gentle way. You could even give the lesson while standing near his or her desk.

Usually, getting closer to a disruptive student will get them back on task. You might not even have to give verbal instructions.

A great way to use the proximity strategy is to make it a habit to circulate the classroom. It keeps students focused when students are engaged in completing their tasks. It can sometimes be handy to rest your hand on a student’s shoulder to get his or her attention.

Even when it comes to disciplining students, proximity allows teachers to be able to privately execute corrective actions. You might think this is unimportant, but quietly correcting students:

  • Helps them accept discipline because their peers are not watching the process
  • Prevents them from seeing the corrective action as a challenge since you’ve not chosen to discipline them publicly
  • Minimizes or downright eliminates their chances of gaining stature among their peers by publicly refusing to obey you, their teacher

The bottom line? Use proximity when you’re teaching your lessons, transitioning to new tasks, or working independently. This great strategy can help you successfully redirect student behavior.

We Feel Good When We Take Positive Actions

All teachers are interested in having their students make positive choices. That’s because such choices ultimately lead to excellent academic and behavioral outcomes.

Positive Action’s philosophy is that “We feel good about ourselves when we do positive actions, and there is always a positive way to do everything.

This philosophy blends well with these positive behavioral interventions that every teacher should have in their arsenal.

The goal with positive interventions should be to use these and other strategies as a proactive measure, not as reactive and consequence-based half-measures.

Remember, problem behaviors are usually a means of communicating. Respond to them with compassion. If you’re able to effectively do this, you’ll be able to establish a trusting relationship between students, families, and teachers.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Positive Action to see how you might be able to implement Positive Action’s classroom management programs to actively engage your learners.

You’ll end up spending less time resolving conflicts and dealing with disruptive behavior and more time teaching.